The Boston Celtics used LeBron James' great start against him

Pauline Gross
May 17, 2018

The majority of Cleveland's points unsurprisingly came from James and Kevin Love, but even a triple-double from James and double-double from Love wasn't enough to fuel the Cavs. Boston outscored Cleveland 36-22 in the third quarter and held Cleveland at bay the rest of the way. Boston has been solid at the charity stripe as they sink 77.1 percent of their chances.

In other scheduling news, Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register (linked here by LA Daily News) tells us that USC men's basketball will play TCU at Staples Center on December 7 as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, which will also feature Arizona State-Nevada and New Mexico-Saint Mary's.

Despite a red hot start by LeBron James, Cleveland could not maintain its 11-point advantage for very long against the Celtics. Cleveland did exactly that: for a half. "We're just trying to get the win". The Boston Celtics are allowing 33 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 43.1 rebounds per game. Doing whatever they could to keep him would've meant dealing for DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline, the rim-protecting center Lue coveted and James equally wanted badly. Horford made the two free throws, and added a reverse layup 12 seconds later, pushing Boston ahead by 12 points, a gap the Cavs never would close.

It started with Lue, whose questionable rotation management returned at the worst possible time. LeBron would have played over 40 minutes if the game wasn't out of hand late in the fourth, and the intensity of those minutes is catching up to him against a team like Boston. J.R. Smith shot 0-for-7. On the night, Baynes finished with nine points and six rebounds in an extremely important 17 minutes of court time. "He goes and makes two, we don't score, and it kind of sent it back to a 10-point game after that". The body language of the Cavaliers was bleak, they give the appearance of a broken squad and if they can't protect home court, they will be.

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James was able to carry Cleveland past the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors without much help. Similarly to what he did to against the Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012, when he played for the Miami Heat.

Nance, meanwhile, has recorded a DNP in two postseason contests and has averaged 4.0 points in 14.6 minutes in the other 11 playoff games. Boston is 1-4 on the road this postseason, and Cleveland is 5-1 at Quicken Loans Arena.

LeBron James responded to his weak game one performance with one of the best playoff quarters of his career. And it shouldn't be surprising that the Celtics took a figurative haymaker from James and the Cavs early in the game - the same one that has made numerous East teams submit - and not even flinch. For Cleveland to win, the cast needs to step up and the good news is that is more likely to happen at home.

But it seems fair to believe it's a move that hurt the Cavs this season and will make them worse in the future - and it couldn't have come at a much worse time. The teams have gone under the total in four of the last five meetings: look for that trend to continue here as Boston continues to challenge Cleveland's shooters.

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